WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Virginia man arrested Friday at an inauguration checkpoint in Washington, D.C., after authorities found at least one firearm and ammunition, claimed he had forgotten the weapon was in his truck and called it “an honest mistake.”
Wesley Allen Beeler, 31, of Front Royal, was arrested at about 6:30 p.m. after police said they found the ammunition and an unauthorized credential, The Washington Post reported.
Beeler was arrested on charges of carrying a pistol without a license, possession of an unregistered firearm and possession of unregistered ammunition, a Capitol Police spokesperson told the newspaper.
A judge ordered him released on personal recognizance and issued a stay-away order from the District of Columbia.
“It was an honest mistake,” Beeler told the Post on Saturday, explaining that he was late for work. “I pulled up to a checkpoint after getting lost in D.C. because I’m a country boy. I showed them the inauguration badge that was given to me.”
According to charging documents, Beeler was driving a white Ford F-150 when he was stopped at a checkpoint north of the U.S. Capitol, WJLA reported.
U.S. Capitol Police said in charging papers that Beeler was “not authorized to enter the restricted area” with the credential he presented, and in a statement Saturday, police said he presented “a non-government issued” credential, the Post reported.
Beeler said he was given a credential by his employer, MVP Protective Services. A man who answered a phone number connected with the company told the Post, “Unfortunately, at this time I am not authorized to speak.”
When asked by officers at the checkpoint if he had any weapons, Beeler admitted to officers that he had a firearm in his truck, WTTG reported. Officers removed Beeler from the truck to check the rest of the vehicle, the television station reported.
In charging documents, officers claimed they saw the end of a Glock handgun and magazine in plain sight near the driver’s side of the truck, WJLA reported.
According to the charging documents, a 17-round high-capacity magazine was discovered loaded in one handgun, loaded with 16 rounds of 9mm ammunition. Capitol Police said that 509 9mm rounds of hollow point and ball ammunition and 21 12-gauge shotgun shells were also found in plain sight in the rear of the vehicle, WJLA reported. There also was a handgun “designed to be fired with a single hand and capable of expelling a projectile by means of an explosion.”
Beeler was arrested at about 7:48 p.m., WJLA reported.
Beeler denied he had more than 500 rounds of ammunition, the Post reported. He added that he forgot his firearm was in the truck when he left his home. Beeler said he had a license to carry a weapon in Virginia, the newspaper reported.
Beeler told the Post he only remembers having the loaded firearm and the shotgun shells in his vehicle.
“It was just me forgetting to take it out of my truck before I left for work,” Beeler told the newspaper. “I don’t know what the D.C. laws are. It still comes back on me, but I’m not a criminal.”
Beeler said he volunteered for a job in Washington after a friend let him know of an overnight job with MVP to guard media equipment, the Post reported. He said the credential he was given had been sufficient to enter the area.
Beeler’s wife, Noelle Beeler, said she understands why people reacted with fear and concern after hearing about the arrest.
“It’s understandable during these times. It does sound suspicious,” she told the Post.
“I don’t want my kids to think I’m a bad person,” Wesley Beeler told the newspaper.
Cox Media Group